Connecticut Offshore Wind Bill Passes House: 134-10

The House overwhelmingly approved legislation Tuesday that would place wind turbines off the state’s shoreline, which supporters say would provide economic development and job opportunities and help the state meet its clean energy goals over the next decade.

The bipartisan proposal cleared the House on a 134-10 vote, and now awaits action in the Senate.

If the bill actually becomes law, 14 days after getting the governor’s approval the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection would issue a procurement.

Rep. David Arconti Jr., D-Danbury, said the 14-day period is an attempt to benefit from a federal tax credit that expires at the end of the year and may not be renewed.

Every developer would have to submit at least one bid for enough turbines to generate 400 megawatts of offshore wind power. A plan that DEEP must submit to the legislature by Jan. 1 would have to include a schedule for solicitations of 2,000 megawatts by 2030.

“As legislators, this is our moment to make a positive impact in sparking economic growth and securing clean energy for the future,” Arconti said.

The measure also would help the state prepare for relying less on the Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford, which supplies the state with 30 percent of its energy.

The state has a goal of generating 40 percent of its energy from class 1 renewable sources by 2030, around the time the agreement with Millstone will expire.

Arconti said the bill would be a substantial step to meeting renewable energy goals, adding that the legislation includes protections for wildlife, ecosystems, and commercial fisheries.

Arconti is optimistic the cheaper energy source would lead to lower costs for consumers.

“This is going to drive down prices for Connecticut and New England,” he said.

Lawmakers said the measure would provide jobs and economic development opportunities primarily for New London, but with the potential for the same in New Haven and Bridgeport.

“This is more than just a great bill for our energy future,” Rep. Charles Ferraro, R-West Haven, said. “It’s a great bill for our economic development and workforce development within our state.”

Rep. Christopher Davis, R-Ellington, who voted in favor of the legislation, raised concerns about developers being required under the legislation to adhere to prevailing wages and project labor agreements.

Although, he said, developers would probably adopt those provisions on their own, Davis said he feared the state would set a bad precedent by statutorily requiring them.

Despite his concerns, Davis supported the proposal due to the overall positive impact to the state’s workforce, energy, and economic development.

Gov. Ned Lamont and DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes applauded the vote, noting the state has announced a $93 million public-private investment at State Pier in New London to meet facility requirements of the offshore wind industry. The investment also would allow for growth by increasing its capability to accommodate heavy-lift cargo.

“Our administration is working hard to put Connecticut in a place to become the center hub of the offshore wind industry in New England, and this legislation moves us one step closer to making that a reality,” Lamont said.

“This is an opportunity that we cannot squander, and the growing, unified momentum behind this bill shows just how important this is to Connecticut,” he said. “I’ve spoken with numerous members of the Senate about this bill, and I am confident that we can get it approved in that chamber so that I can sign it into law.”

“This legislation sends an unmistakable signal that Connecticut is poised for historic investment in offshore wind,” Dykes said. “I applaud the legislature’s support for this bill, and here at DEEP we are looking forward to implementing this policy once it secures final passage.”

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